The Canon PIXMA iX4000 provides a neat feature set in terms of both the paper it can handle and the speed of the output, although as we’ll see it’s not quite as fast as Canon make out.

The iX4000 has 4800x1200dpi printing with 2-picolitre (two billionth’s of litre) droplet sizes, meaning although it uses only four inks, the output is superb for graphics, text and photos. The Canon FINE (Full-Photolithography Nozzle Engineering) used to create extremely accurate nozzles for the ink droplets to pass through.

Add to that the use of four ChromaLife100 dye-based single ink tank inks and print longevity is around 30-years when a print is displayed, say, framed on the wall or 100-years if stored in an album according to Canon’s test methods. You get a high capacity black, then the "usual" cyan, magenta and yellow inks.

In terms of connectivity, the iX4000 has PictBridge compatibility for those digital camera equipped with it (and Canon cameras do) and a USB2.0 port, though disappointingly, the printer is not supplied with a USB cable, which seems odd but is presumably because most purchasers of this printer will be trading up from smaller (A4 for example) printers.

Setting up the iX4000 is fairly straightforward but quite slow, the drivers and comprehensive software taking around 20-mins to load up, after you’ve unpacked the printer from its many bits of polystyrene, plastic, sticky tape; loaded the user replaceable print head and inserted the inks into their respective slots within the print head.

However, once up and running a quick print head alignment is required to ensure the machine is printing at top accuracy and you’re away. Canon claims print speeds of around 18ppm and 14ppm for mono and colour documents with a mixture of text, graphics and images respectively. But as soon as you want to stretch the printers photo-printing legs things slow down.

But, there are a couple of odd things that seem a tad out of place; I’ll look at first. One is the mode in the print driver that "prevents paper abrasion". Why would you want the paper to scuff? High-gloss papers can mark at the best of times so this should be on not off by default; or why not just build the printer so that it cannot abrade the paper in the first place, ever?

And there’s a bottom plate cleaning process that needs to be done periodically to stop ink from borderless output that misses the paper from marking the reverse of your prints. This is particularly important if you go from, say, borderless A4 printing up to larger A3 printing; you could get ink marks on the reverse of your prints if this is not done occasionally.

As for the output, using Canon Photo Paper Pro and the printers Super Fine print setting, a borderless A4 photo print takes about 10-minutes using my Mac G4 set up. Switch to borderless A3 and it (almost) doubles.

But, the wait is worth it. Given this is a four-ink printer and most photo printers today now use light inks such as light magenta and cyan, or use extra, colour-gamut broadening inks such as red or purple or extra blacks, the iX4000 produces excellent quality photo prints.

Detail is excellent and subtlety of tones in skin, highlights, and shadows is well rendered. Overall, this is a versatile well-rounded package that will be at home printing graphics and text for "office" style jobs or printing top quality photos.

Verdict

Simple to use and fast for all but the highest quality print output on photos, the iX4000 is a great A3+ printer at a great prince and well worth serious consideration for the home, office or home office.